Family activities for summer fun amid a pandemic

Callan Lennington, 7, Tadd Lennington, 5, and Elias Johnston, 7, jump into the pool at the Castaic Sports Complex Aquatic Center. Signal File Photo
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As California continues to shut down again, families in the Santa Clarita Valley are still looking for ways to enjoy the summer months. 

Though not all the typical vacations and family excursions are possible this year, there are still a number of ways to get out and enjoy the great outdoors locally this summer.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently proclaimed July as “Parks Make Life Better” month, which the county Department of Parks and Recreation has marked as the official start of the 2020 summer season. 

That being said, a number of recreational activities and amenities will be coming to L.A. County Parks this month, promoting physical activity and wellness while respective of the COVID-19 health guidelines. 

“We have convened with over 90 park municipalities, in partnership with the Department of Public Health to develop COVID-19 health procedures to help our staff and park guests stay safe,” Director Norma E. Garcia said. “We are excited, this year more than ever, to continue to celebrate the annual ‘Parks Make Life Better’ month to promote the importance of access to local parks, recreation, trails and open space for respite and mental wellness to everyone in Los Angeles County.”

Shay Bendror of Saugus secures his boat after sailing on the Castaic Logoon at the boat launch. Dan Watson/The Signal

Drive-in show time

Drive-In at the Park takes the movie theater outdoors at Castaic Lake with double features every weekend now through August.

“I felt like a kid again,” Saugus resident Anthony Sanchez said, chuckling. “I got to relive my childhood of packing the bed of a truck with blankets and pillows, and my kids, who are 5 and 12 years old and usually never can sit through a movie, absolutely loved it.” 

The Sanchez family are one of many in the SCV that have taken advantage of the movie nights, with some new and some old movies being shown at 8:20 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For $30, you can pack your family in a car, and enjoy a movie under the stars. 

For more information, visit driveinatthepark.com.

Leo Apperson, left, watches as his father Jason helps Ben Melo hammer stakes into the ground beside the Apperson’s tent. Signal File Photo

A camping stay-cation for all

Overnight Family Fishing and Camping events, located at select regional parks, including at Castaic Lake, offer an affordable outdoor “staycation” for families looking to experience the outdoors. 

After pitching your tent near the beach, you’ll enjoy some night fishing or kayak under the moonlight in the lagoon before sitting around the campfire eating s’mores and watching a movie in the park, then off to sleep under the stars.

Registration for the campout is required, and s’mores and all activities are free to participants. General admission is $10, while kids 11 and under are free. Events are monthly, with the next scheduled Friday, Aug. 28, and continuing in September.

For more information, visit parks.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FamilyFishingFlyer.pdf.

Kayakers paddle in the nice weather on the Castaic lagoon, below Castaic Lake in Castaic on Thursday, May 28, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

A socially distanced summer camp

Summer Day Camps, with sessions at Val Verde Community Regional Park, Castaic Regional Sports Complex and Acton Park, provide kids with educational camps, while maintaining public health safety protocols.  

Using fun themed activities, the program is focused on instilling positive youth development, while allowing children to explore, learn new skills and make new friends. 

ESTEAM (Environment, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) camp encourages children to become stewards of parkland, while Youth Sports & Fitness Mini-Camps offer kids the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals of a sport, both of which are offered at nearby parks in the SCV.

These camps offer flexible schedules and free or reduced-cost day camp options for ages 6 and up. Participants should bring a snack, face mask and water bottle labeled with their name.

For more information, visit parks.lacounty.gov/summercamp20.

The swimming beaches at Castaic lake are set to reopen after closing due to COVID19 related health measures. July 14, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

A splishy splash

While public pools and aquatic centers have not yet been cleared to reopen, there are still ways to get in the water this summer. 

Splash Pads, located at 18 parks, including Castaic Regional Sports Complex, are one of them, providing colorful, water-filled play areas and a fun way to cool off during the warm summer months. 

Go for a dip in the lake

Swim Beaches, located along lake shorelines, including at Castaic Lake’s lower lake, are another way to cool off in the warm weather. 

“Every year, my family goes for family picnics at the swim beaches, and this year, I expect we’ll be doing so a lot more,” Castaic resident Tracy Quinn said. “The beaches are always nice and clean, and my kids love the fresh water rather than going to the actual beach.” 

The Castaic Lake Swim Beach is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sundays.

The swimming beaches at Castaic lake are set to reopen after closing due to COVID19 related health measures. July 14, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Go for a hike

County trails and natural areas also remain open for active recreation, such as hiking, walking, and running, with physical distancing and face coverings required.

For more information on favorite SCV trails, visit signalscv.com/2020/05/time-to-take-to-the-great-outdoors-scv.

In addition, L.A. County Parks continues to offer free online programming, including the Parks From Home virtual recreation center, which has activities for all ages, and Our SPOT, a virtual after-school program for teens ages 12-18.

For more information on 2020 Summer Fun, visit parks.lacounty.gov/summer, and for the complete list of COVID-19 guidelines and other reopening changes, visit the L.A. County Parks at parks.lacounty.gov/covid-19.

The swimming beaches at Castaic lake are set to reopen after closing due to COVID19 related health measures. July 14, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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